Villagers welcome €50,000 sale of unfinished 'eyesore' ghost estate
IT was the poster estate that was dubbed "a planning nightmare".
Former environment minister John Gormley once used a photograph of Annagh Banks in Castlemaine, Co Kerry on a Green Party leaflet to illustrate all that was wrong with the Irish planning system.
Now the unfinished ghost estate will be offered at auction with a reserve of €50,000, or just €3,571 per house.
When the development was launched originally, house prices started at €200,000.
And unlike other so-called ghost estates, Annagh Banks is at a relatively finished stage, with doors floorboards, fireplaces and tiles in place.
While the estate is clearly unfinished, some of the houses almost look ready to move into.
But it has remained in limbo since work froze on the site in 2007.
The developer, local man Patrick Griffin, is now in America.
Yesterday in his native village, no one wanted to criticise a man whose development was not met with any opposition when it first went for planning permission.
Built on the banks of the Annagh River just outside the village of Castlemaine on the gateway to the Dingle Peninsula, the 14 houses that make up the development are at various stages of completion.
Tiled floors, kitchen units, painted woodwork, laminate flooring in the sitting room and a stone-fronted fireplace can be seen in some of the houses that have been completed to a builder's finish.
The other houses are at the first fix stage.
A smashed back window on one property is the only sign that the development has been interfered with.
Security on the site is lax. A gap measuring about 1ft in the high gates to the property gives easy access to anyone wishing to get a closer look at the three-acre site.
Planning permission had also been granted for nine apartments, a pub/ restaurant, 12-bedroom hotel and two retail units, although this has now lapsed.
News that it is now going to be offered at a distressed property auction by Allsop Space in the Shelbourne Hotel in Dublin on July 6 has been welcomed locally.
"It's an eyesore the way it is, but there is nothing wrong with those houses, and it would be great to think that someone would finish it," one local said.
But opposition to the development was non-existent at the time. The developer was a local and it promised jobs in a rural area where there was not a lot of alternative employment.